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Design Insights: Moving Forward on Virtual Events; New Alloys for Additive Manufacturing

March 18, 2021
A review of the day’s top trends and news from Machine Design editors.

Automate Moves Forward

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) found such great success with its annual Automate conference that it had targeted 2021 to spin off the show into its own event in Detroit. While the pandemic has turned the live event into an online showcase, A3 and Automate are moving forward.

The virtual Automate Forward conference will boast speakers, presentations and demonstrations on March 22-26. It will feature sessions on connection technologies such as 5G and digital twins, as well as insights on when and whether to automate every part of a process. Of particular interest will be The 2021 State of the Automation Industry Executive Roundtable on Tues., March 23 at 10 a.m. EST with representatives from FANUC AMERICA, B&R Automation, Honeywell Intelligrated, Intel and Stäubli speaking.

LiveWorx Moves Monthly

There are several ways to do virtual events. The event-as-tradeshow has been one common model, but PTC is turning its usual LiveWorx trade show and conference into a monthly series of seminars to discuss the process and progress around digital transformation.

LiveWorx 2021: The Limited Series opens the first of its monthly episodes on March 25 at 10 a.m. EST to discuss the work methods changing the workplace. Future topics will include product development, harnessing AI, and the scale and impact of the digital workplace on workers and on the enterprise.

New Alloys for Additive Manufacturing

The early promise of additive manufacturing was that it could create precision models in ways traditional metalworking couldn’t. The industry had evolved rapidly to move past simple metallurgy to dynamic and sophisticated alloys that not only solve design issues, but can also address longer-term maintenance issues.

One good example of this is 3D Systems collaborating with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division to develop copper-nickel (CuNi) and nickel-copper (NiCu) alloys for powder bed fusion additive manufacturing. “These new materials could allow Newport News Shipbuilding to additively manufacture parts that are traditionally cast—reducing lead times by up to 75% to improve supply chain efficiency,” company officials said in a press release.

Because the CuNi and NiCu alloys are corrosion-resistant, the traditional casting methods mean a very long lead time for parts. By using additive manufacturing, Newport News Shipbuilding will be able to create replacement parts in a fraction of that time, improving production time as well as supply chain management for repair and replacement parts.

The benefit of the project for 3D Systems is that it allows expansion of the technology to other industries where corrosion is an issue, such as oil and gas applications and refining.

“These new materials have the potential to redefine Newport News Shipbuilding’s innovation pipeline, enabling them to more efficiently deliver high-quality parts,” said Chuck Hull, co-founder and chief technology officer of 3D Systems.

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